Greyhounds have a unique skinny body structure with long, slim legs, a thin, pointy snout, and high hip bones, which show off their height alongside a wide, protruding ribcage.
It’s often thought that greyhounds look too skinny because you can normally see their ribcage. However, their bodies are perfectly equipped for chasing and should look skinny.
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So, Why Are Greyhounds So Skinny?
Greyhounds were originally bred as hunting dogs.
As sighthounds, they can spot a prey animal from a great distance away, and their body structure allows them to reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hour to catch the prey, despite the distance between them.
Other dogs focus on scent and sound to track prey and rely on their stealth to get as close as possible before making a move.
One of the main reasons that greyhounds look so skinny is because their coat and skin are incredibly thin.
To make them as fast as possible, their fur is very thin, light, and kept close to their body. This makes them aerodynamic.
Their skin is also incredibly thin, again, to shake off those excess pounds, but also to ensure that they stay cool when running.
They are incredibly sensitive to extreme heat and cold temperatures, and their thin skin means that their blood vessels are closer to the surface to allow for faster cooling.
However, this does also mean that they can get cold very quickly, so you’ll typically see greyhounds wearing a coat when they aren’t racing.
Their ribcage does constantly look exposed in comparison to other dogs. However, this is because it’s so prominent in contrast to the rest of their bone structure.
They have enormous lungs, which help them to take in more oxygen when they’re running. The extra air also makes them lighter and able to accelerate faster.
Greyhounds that race have a high-calorie, high-protein diet that adds to their muscle strength, allowing them to further push their legs and joints, giving them more stamina.
You’ll be able to see a greyhound’s muscles and they move very easily under their skin, just adding to their grace and elegance while running.
Despite the extra calories in a racing greyhound’s diet, they have a speedy metabolism, which means that they don’t gain weight easily while they’re racing.
Any calories they gain are used to help their speed and usually have been lost again by the end of the race.
Unfortunately, many greyhound parents make the mistake of keeping up that high-calorie diet when they’re retired from racing. While their metabolism is still fast, they won’t lose weight as quickly without excessive exercise.
How To Know If Your Greyhound Is Too Skinny
Greyhounds should naturally weigh around 36-40 kg for a male and up to 30-34 kg for a female.
It’s common for people to think that this weight is too skinny based on their appearance, and many owners are tempted to ‘fatten up’ their greyhound using high-fat content foods.
To tell if your greyhound is truly too skinny, you’ll need to look closely at some of their features:
If you stand behind your greyhound, you should see that their waist gradually pulls in from their ribs at a curving angle.
If you notice that their hip bones are overly exposed, making the shape square and straight, it could mean that your greyhound is too skinny.
Despite their extremely skinny physique, you shouldn’t be able to see the spine of your greyhound in great detail.
Their spine is flexible, giving them the power to move their whole body when running to accommodate longer strides.
However, their spine should seem like a smooth line. If you run your hand along your greyhound’s back lightly, you shouldn’t be able to pick out the individual vertebrae there.
But if you can feel individual bones, they may be too skinny. And if you can see the bones protruding from a distance, they’re definitely too skinny, and you might even need to seek veterinary assistance.
Looking at your greyhound from the side, you should see a smooth curve from their ribcage up to their abdomen, where their body meets their hind legs.
If the line is more angular, creating a corner from the ribcage to their hind legs, then they’re probably too skinny.
Using a ribcage is a difficult way to tell if your greyhound is underweight, as you will be able to see their ribs anyway, due to their body shape.
However, it’s a great way to tell if they’re gradually losing weight over time by comparing the ribs to what they used to look like. The ribcage itself will always be visible.
You’ll be able to feel the individual ribs relatively easily; however, you shouldn’t be able to see each individual rib from a distance. Noticeably protruding ribs can be a sign that your greyhound is losing weight.
A greyhound’s thin skin should cling perfectly to their muscles. If you notice that the skin is falling more loosely, most often around the abdomen and shoulders, it may be a sign of muscle loss.
The skin won’t shrink with the muscles, so it becomes looser and easier to pull away from their body.
How To Fatten Up A Greyhound That Is Too Skinny
The first step is to understand the reason that they’re too skinny. Is it because they aren’t eating enough or because they’re ill?
It’s best to seek veterinary advice if you notice extreme weight loss and keep a constant eye on their weight by weighing them regularly.
It’ll also help your vet if you keep an eye out for any other personality or behavioral changes. And you should also assess your meal schedule.
If you feed your dog twice a day, in the morning and evening, perhaps you should split this down into more frequent sessions to train your greyhound’s stomach into eating more regularly.
This triggers their metabolism to function correctly and evens out the calories used to generate energy. Some greyhound owners resort to higher fat human foods for a quick win to help them gain weight.
However, this can actually do more damage than good. Weight gain should be a slower process created naturally by the build-up of their traditional food sources.
Try switching up to a slightly more calorie-intensive dog food – meat, not kibble. Chicken and venison are both great sources of natural fat build-up. Try some cooked chicken treats or thin slices of venison between meals.
Common Reasons For Greyhound Weight Loss
Sharing Food – If you have more than one dog, it could be that the other dog is eating more than their fair share of food. Try to feed them separately for a while to see if this makes a difference.
Age – Greyhounds, like all other animals, gradually lose weight when they’re older. It’s a natural part of the aging process.
As a result, they may gain digestive issues and might lose their appetite if they don’t have a lot of energy. Switch to shorter walks to help them keep their energy levels up. This will encourage them to eat more.
Thyroid Issues – Having an overactive thyroid can waste the calories that your greyhound is taking on without them having to expel any energy. This is normally a genetic trait and can usually be fixed with medication.
Pain – If there’s something wrong internally, your greyhound may stop eating because they’re in pain or because they feel uncomfortable.
Check inside their ears and mouth for any infection or injuries. If you’re unable to see anything obvious, take a trip to the vet for a diagnosis.
Greyhound Health Problems Caused By Weight Loss
Factures – Greyhounds are skinny to begin with. Losing fat around their legs makes them even more susceptible to bone breakages and fractures while they’re running.
The lack of nutrients that their body is attempting to survive on may also make their bones more brittle, putting them at a greater risk.
Organ Usage – Lack of proper protein and calorie intake can cause the liver and kidneys to function differently. This can affect their digestion long-term and cause kidney disease or liver failure later in life.
Immune Deficiencies – Lack of body fat decreases your greyhound’s energy levels, meaning their bodies don’t have the energy to fight off infections or illnesses that normally wouldn’t affect them.
Hypothermia – Greyhounds are sensitive to cold temperatures as it is. However, loss of even that thin layer of fat can cause them to go into a hypothermic state if they spend any time out in the cold.
How To Know If Your Greyhound Is Overweight
Greyhounds being overweight is a much more common problem than seeing them underweight.
This is because people feel that their natural physique makes them look too skinny, and people fear that they’re ill. But feeding them up isn’t always the best thing to do.
The most common reasons for a greyhound being overweight are:
Racing dogs have a much more calorie-intense diet to allow them to keep up their energy while racing. Racing greyhounds tend to retire at around two years old, leaving them to be fantastic family pets.
However, inexperienced greyhound owners make the mistake of keeping their diet at the same level as a racer’s, thinking that it will upset their digestion if they were to change the food.
However, the excess calories in a racing diet are no longer burned off in a pet, even if they’re exercised regularly.
Greyhounds are quite lazy at home and will sleep for around 16 hours a day. This means that those excess calories tend to stick around for longer.
Switching to less food or a specific ex-racer food will help them to stay in shape.
Living With Other Dogs
Greyhounds love to be around other dogs and get quite anxious when they’re left alone. However, if they live with different breeds of dog, they might share food while you’re not looking.
Greyhounds love to eat, and their diet needs to be monitored closely. If they’re eating more of their fair share of food, they can gain weight quickly.
Despite being lazy, a greyhound will need 2-3 short walks per day (of up to 20 minutes each). They’re built for speed, and a short walk around the neighborhood or a quick off-the-leash session in the park will work.
They aren’t made for long hikes, and their legs are best on flat ground, so hiking won’t be needed. However, many greyhounds don’t get the opportunity to blow off some steam with a quick sprint each day.
Their couch-potato lifestyle and sensitivity to cold may make it difficult for owners to convince them to go on a walk.
Lazy greyhounds often make lazy owners too, and the pounds will start to pile on once the routine is lost.
It’s essential to keep an eye on your greyhound’s weight. You need to understand how heavy they are when they’re healthy and weigh them every month to assess any changes.
If you notice a drastic weight change, always seek professional help and make sure you stick to a good exercise routine.